EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

September 30, 2012

Column: Romney can save campaign by focusing on deficit

With all the polls reporting continued slippage in Mitt Romney’s campaign, especially in the battleground states like Ohio, the only real strategy, it seems clear, is to hammer Barack Obama on his failure to keep a promise to cut the national debt in half in his first four years.

Unless he can center his campaign on that theme, the Republican’s odds of beating the incumbent Democrat are getting longer by the day. Even a sterling performance in the upcoming debates probably isn’t enough to overcome the president’s leads in Ohio, Virginia and other battleground states. Romney is trailing by 10 points in Ohio, and no Republican has won the presidency without carrying the state.

In Ohio, the power of the incumbency has been particularly noticeable with the White House dumping a truckload of federal funds into projects designed to improve the job situation. Ohio received the first grant in a program to create 15 manufacturing centers, and Ohio companies received $125 million in clean-air tax credits, to mention just a couple of examples of federal election-year generosity.

So how does Romney succeed in convincing voters they’d be better off with him? May we suggest taking a deep breath and promoting the deficit issue, to the exclusion of much else, making every stump speech a referendum on the administration’s major failing?

It is merely a case of attacking Obama where he is most vulnerable — and that is his inability to deal with the fourth straight year of $1 trillion increases in the national debt. Add that to 44 months of 8.3 percent unemployment and it should be enough, at least historically, to send Obama back to Chica

go.

But these aren’t normal times. That formula for a successful campaign, as we h

ave seen, keeps getting sidetracked by debilitating wounds, some self-inflicted, as in Romney’s “private” 47 percent remarks, and others caused by an organization that micromanages badly. Republican leaders in the far-flung reaches complain that everything seems to have to go through Boston before it can be executed.

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